Erin Merdy: Mentally 'unstable' Brooklyn mom, 30, who drowned 3 children was facing eviction and custody battle
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK CITY: A mother from Brooklyn, who allegedly drowned her three children, was reportedly facing eviction from her apartment and a custody battle. Erin Merdy, 30, of Coney Island was also battling mental health issues at the time of the incident.
Merdy owed more than $10,000 in back rent for her apartment. As she was unable to pay, she had been threatened with getting kicked out since January after the state’s Covid-19 eviction moratorium expired, according to court records, New York Post reported. The mom was served with an eviction notice after she stopped paying her $1,531-a-month rent for her Neptune Avenue apartment in July 2021.
Merdy is said to have told her relatives that she drowned her children near a nearby beach on Monday, September 12. The deceased children were three-month-old Oliver, four-year-old Liliana and seven-year-old Zachary. According to Merdy's relatives, she appeared unstable in recent years and found it hard to maintain consistent relationships. “There was a time when Erin and I were in contact all the time, but in 2015, 2016, she disappeared off the Earth. I didn’t know how to get in touch with her,” Merdy’s uncle, Levy Stephen, said. “Now I’m faulting myself for that. She obviously needed help, and you can’t help but think, ‘Maybe I could have…’" “I’m at a loss for words. It’s not every day you lose three family members in one day,” he added. “Nobody wants to go to the funeral and see those three bodies.”
Jean Stephen, 64, another uncle, said he believed Merdy sis not “have her life together". “I don’t think she could handle a relationship or anything like that. She didn’t seem like she was that kind of person. She didn’t seem like she was stable,” the relative said. “Anybody can go out and just fool around, but a person that’s stable can settle down with one person. She didn’t have her life together enough to do that.”
Relatives called police around 1 am on Monday to report Merdy, who was allegedly drunk, may harm her children. Police found her hours later, looking dazed as she walked barefoot through the sand on the Coney Island beach in a bathrobe. According to law enforcement sources, she told relatives before being found by cops by police that she “drowned all three kids.” The children were later found three blocks from their home on Neptune Avenue, along the the shoreline, unresponsive. They were pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital.
Merdy's mother has claimed that the daughter may have suffered from post-partum depression. Jacqueline Scott, told the New York Daily News, "I reached out to her yesterday and she said she was doing laundry and I said I wanted to speak to the kids. I tried to call her twice on the phone and there was no answer."
Merdy’s aunt Dine Stephen said although she knew her niece was struggling, she did not know how severe her condition was. “I knew she was struggling in the sense she was trying to find her way through life. In this family we do have a history of mental illness to varying degrees. A few of us have battled with bipolar disorder, but I didn’t know her mental struggles,” the aunt said, according to New York Post. “I just knew she was trying to find a way for her children, a way to get on her feet. … It was the mental issues that took over.”
Another uncle, Eddy Stephen, said, "She did a little crazy stuff, but nothing that would lead to harming her children or herself. She used to like to party here and there, do a little drinking, but I didn’t see any drug abuse or see that she was really irresponsible. It’s just tragic. I don’t know. She never gave us the sign that she would hurt her children. She loved her children.”
According to Merdy's uncle Levy, she was facing a custody battle with her Zachary’s father. “He had issues with the way she was raising the child, from what I understand,” Levy said. “She kind of went off the grid after that, changed her numbers. She wasn’t on social media — at least not to the point that I could find her.” According to law enforcement sources, she had failed to bring her son to a custody exchange in July. This was just ahead of a six-week visit that was planned with Zachary’s dad.
The children's exact cause of death has not been determined yet and no charges have been filed against Merdy. She was sent to NYU Langone Hospital or a psychiatric evaluation.
“How does she come back from this? Even if you get your mind back, how do you get over the fact that you killed your children?” Levy said. “That’s a shadow that’s going to be over her for the rest of her life. That’s what I’m worried about. I don’t think there’s a support group for people who commit such a heinous crime. Are there people who are functional that have done this?”